Delaware at Virginia Tech

Sports Xchange

September 06, 2017 at 5:37 pm.

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET
SITE: Lane Stadium, Blacksburg, Va.
TV: ACC Network EXTRA
SERIES: First meeting
RANKINGS: Virginia Tech No. 18

PLAYERS TO WATCH
Hokies

–QB Josh Jackson had quite a debut on a national stage against West Virginia, passing for 235 yards and a touchdown and rushing for a team-high 101 yards and a score. It was the highest rushing output by a Virginia Tech quarterback in his debut since at least 1987.

–WR Cam Phillips played a big part in Jackson’s dazzling debut, catching seven passes for a career-high 138 yards and a score. Phillips moved into fifth place on the Hokies’ career receiving list with 2,201 yards, passing Antonio Freeman, who had 2,200 from 1991-94.

–LB Andrew Motuapuaka, who led the team with 114 tackles in 2016, is on his way to duplicating that feat after posting 12 tackles against the Mountaineers. Motuapuaka, the ACC’s linebacker of the week, had one of Tech’s two sacks on the day.

–FS Terrell Edmunds had seven tackles and two pass breakups but missed considerable time in the fourth quarter with cramps. Edmunds appeared to be OK afterward. He was on the field to celebrate the victory with his teammates.

Blue Hens

–RB Thomas Jefferson led the rushing attack. He had 19 carries for 102 yards in the 22-3 win over Delaware State.

–WR Diante Cherry scored touchdowns both rushing and receiving for the Blue Hens in their opener. Among his four receptions for 83 yards was a 31-yard touchdown catch. He also scored on a 19-yard run.

–LB Charles Bell led the Blue Hens on defense with seven tackles.

–NT Bilal Nichols was in on only four tackles, but teamed with DE Cam Kitchen for the team’s only sack.

KEYS
TO THE GAME

After passing his first test as a new starting quarterback, Virginia Tech redshirt freshman Josh Jackson faces a short week as he gets ready for his second start when the Hokies host FCS foe Delaware.

Kickoff is at 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday in Blacksburg’s Lane Stadium with the telecast on the ACC EXTRA Network.

The 18th-ranked Hokies are coming off a 31-24 win over West Virginia in a Sunday night affair in which Jackson accounted for 336 yards, two touchdowns, and no turnovers in the neutral site win in FedEx Field in Landover, Md.

“I’m sure he feels good about it,” Hokies coach Justin Fuente said of Jackson’s debut. “The challenge for him is we’ve had several weeks to prepare for the West Virginia defense and those looks and the checks and all of those things.

“Now he’s going to have to be able to do it in six days, so that’ll be another step for him in terms of digesting the game plan, getting as comfortable as he was with the game plan this week for next week in a much shorter amount of time.”

Jackson said he was studying West Virginia game tape as early as January in preparation for the opener. He will have a decidedly shorter time to prepare for Delaware.

“I think I’ll be ready. … I think I’ll be just as prepared as I was for this game,” Jackson said.

Delaware is coming off a 22-3 home victory over Delaware State last week in the debut for first-year head coach Danny Rocco.

The Fighting Blue Hens racked up a considerable yardage advantage against the Hornets (432-224) but struggled to reach the end zone, scoring their only two touchdowns in the final 18 minutes.

They head to Blacksburg for their first-ever meeting with Virginia Tech. Delaware has dropped its last six games against Football Bowl Subdivision opponents, a streak that includes losses to ACC opponents in each of the previous three seasons.

“We’ll have our hands full, but we’re certainly excited about the opportunity,” Rocco said.

Rocco is familiar with the Hokies from his days as an assistant at Virginia from 2001-05. After his time in Charlottesville, Rocco had head coaching jobs at Liberty (2006-11) and Richmond (2012-16) before making his way to Delaware.

While the personnel has changed, Rocco knows what is in store for his team when it faces off against Virginia Tech.

“They’ve got some new names and some new faces out there playing, but the product looks so much the same,” Rocco said. “They’re an athletic defense, they’re fast, and on offense they’re physical. Their running backs run hard and (wide receiver Cam Phillips) is an exceptional football player.”

Phillips caught seven passes for 138 yards and a touchdown against the Mountaineers. The senior, who is on pace to become Virginia Tech’s career leader in receptions and receiving yards, was a go-to target for Jackson, who passed for 235 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 101 yards and a score.

Jackson became the first Tech player since Logan Thomas in 2013 to pass for more than 200 yards and rush for more than 100 in a game.

“Obviously we’re happy with the first win,” Jackson said. “It’s only one win at the end of the day, so we’ve got to continue to work and continue to get better and just get ready for the next game.”

Virginia Tech’s defense struggled at times against West Virginia’s Air Raid offense. The Hokies allowed 592 total yards, their highest output allowed since yielding 598 in a 2007 loss at eventual national champion LSU.

“I wish everything had been a little more consistent,” Fuente said.

Delaware had a similar feeling about its performance in its opener.

“I felt like we were executing things, but when it came down to crunch time, converting third downs, getting into the end zone, we just didn’t do that very well,” said Blue Hens wide receiver Diante Cherry, who caught a 31-yard touchdown pass and ran 19 yards for another score. “We just have to watch the film and see what we can do better as a team.”